Working from home makes energy bills higher in Hungary

English2021. márc. 9.Növekedés.hu

The electricity and gas consumption of the population increased last year, and one of the reasons was presumably the transition to remote working, növekedés.hu was told by the Hungarian Energy and Public Utility Regulatory Authority. The closures and lockdown in the spring are clearly reflected in the non-residential electricity data as well: demand fell by almost 15 percent, but in the autumn the situation improved a lot, according to the data received from the Energy Office.

Many flat-rate payers have recently received the annual clearing bill that is considerably higher than last year, 

and even those who pay their electricity and gas bills on the basis of their monthly consumption could see their consumption go up last year compared to the previous year. 

Due to the new working conditions because of Covid-19, the majority of people today work from home (at least office workers and those whose personal attendance is not required), and most children have online classes at home. We looked into the impact of remote working on energy bills. 

Residential natural gas consumption increased by 7% in 2020 compared to the previous year, 

the Hungarian Energy and Public Utility Regulatory Authority (MEKH) revealed, and explained that there may be several reasons for the growth in household consumption. 

First of all, there was a significant increase in the number of new homes, where natural gas is still the most common heating method; at the same time, the price of alternative heating methods, such as firewood, gradually increased compared to gas. 

Besides, especially in the last months of the year, 

demand for the heating of residential properties may have increased also because remote working has become the new norm,

MEKH explained, adding that it will only be possible to see the impact of each factor on the basis of data covering a longer period.

Non-residential natural gas consumption rose by 3.8% last year.

The main factor behind this was that due to the significant decrease in the price of natural gas and the further increase in the price of carbon dioxide quotas, gas became more competitive in the European gas market than lignite and coal, so despite the decrease in electricity production, natural gas consumption in power plants could grow, which compensated for the decline in industrial demand. 

In April and May, when the decrease in the electricity demand was the largest, sales of natural gas to non-residential users decreased. 

Residential electricity demand increased by 4% in 2020. 

Similarly to the demand for natural gas, household electricity consumption grew in the autumn period, when working from home became typical.

In contrast, non-household consumption fell by 3.7% for the year as a whole. The largest decline of 14% was recorded in the second quarter during the lockdown in the spring; when the extent of the decline was similar to the decline in GDP.

Non-residential electricity demand was already close to the previous year in Q3 and Q4, while GDP was still down about 4%. 

This may have been due to the fact that the largest decline in economic output was seen in the service sector, whose energy demand is less significant, while industrial production with much higher energy needs was already able to increase in the autumn months compared to the same period last year, MEKH explained.